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Former Swedish harness racing driver Marika Eriksson often has to pinch herself when she reflects on her past few years working in Australia - and she's certainly been on something of a lucky run lately! With a strong harness racing background at home, Eriksson calmly notched up a significant career milestone at Kilmore recently, driving her very first Australian square-gaiter winner in Orlando Jolt (Orlando Vici (Fra)-Galleons Surprise NZ (King Conch US). "I also received some exciting news in the past couple of days that my work visa out here had been sorted for another four years," Eriksson said. "I've been very, very lucky. I'm so happy and most humble in regard to the opportunities I've had." Her milestone win on the four-year-old Orlando Jolt was for her employer, trainer Anton Golino and raced by Ballarat-based Yabby Dam Farms Pty Ltd along with a group of other enthusiasts. Eriksson works at the state-of-the-art Yabby Dam Farms complex, established by principle Pat Driscoll. "When I first came out to Australia I got a job with Mattie Craven. I was there for two years and later spent about 18 months with David Aiken, before joining Anton and Pat," she said. "I've found that since I lost my concession claim, I haven't been getting that many driving offers. In the past six months, I may have had just three drives. "But I probably enjoy the training side a bit more really - it's a nice feeling to train them up and get them to the races. I really don't mind being on the sidelines." Eriksson said when Anton asked her if she could take Orlando Jolt to the Kilmore meeting, she wasn't expecting what happened next! "He sort of quizzed me that I was okay with doing that. I assured him that I was, and then he added that I may as well drive the horse as well!" she said. "So I went to the meeting by myself, and happily come home with a winner. "I had driven Orlando Jolt at home plenty of times, but it was the first time I'd taken the reins on him at a race meeting-it was a big thrill, although it did feel more like a fastwork session." Kilmore has provided Eriksson with other nice memories, including driving her first Australian winner for the Aiken team. She was successful on Heavenly Shades (Shadow Play-Shalom) on October 9, 2018, and the pair repeated the dose four months later at Maryborough. "That first win stands out as my favorite. It was so special after I'd made a big move from the other side of the world. But all of them have been pleasant," she said. While Eriksson has posted seven wins and 19 placings from limited opportunities out here, she was in the winner's circle far more often in Sweden. After attending a trotting school for three years when she turned 16, she later drove in races as well as competing in Monte events. "I definitely preferred to drive-I use to get so nervous in the Montes. Dad was a small-time trainer with five or six, but because I lived 10 hours away I didn't do a lot of driving for him," she said. "My younger sister Isabell drives for dad and she's landed some winners. She works as a groom/stablehand looking after some top horses. "I haven't been home for two-and-a-half years and was planning a trip this year, but the coronavirus put a stop to that." Eriksson said harness racing had taken her to a number of places since living in Australia. "I've been very lucky in doing some trips. I spent a fortnight in New Zealand during the InterDominion looking after the trotter Big Jack Hammer. That was unreal," she said. Eriksson, who comes from Vemdalen, located in the central part of Sweden, 500 kms from the capital Stockholm, says she still hasn't fully adapted to the chilly weather in Ballarat. "I probably should have by now because Vemdalen is one of the best ski resorts back home. It always has plenty of snow in winter. While I miss the skiing, Yabby Dam Farms is a lovely place with its peace and quiet. I'm very happy here."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has taken the precautionary step to postpone tomorrow’s Kilmore meeting. This decision follows a Tabcorp Park Melton non-racing hospitality staff member testing positive to COVID-19 last week.   HRV is awaiting further test results and will determine next steps regarding racing resuming in the Melbourne and Surrounds Region once they have been received. The status of Melton’s postponed Friday night meeting been changed to cancelled. “Unfortunately, we cannot push the postponed Melton meet any further back so that meeting has had to be cancelled,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “As Kilmore is in the same region as Melton, we will postpone that meeting and look to reschedule it to Tuesday night. An announcement on the Kilmore meet and the Melton Tuesday trials will be made tomorrow.”   Harness Racing Victoria

There were thrills and spills, but no serious injuries...and the skirmishes will take little away from the winner of Victorian harness racing's first two-year old race of the season, Ultimate Exclusive. Kilmore is the traditional host of the Victorian season opener for the "babies" and there's always some nervous anticipation in the leadup to the New Year fixture - but today's event was a little more action packed than most. Several of the debutantes broke stride early in attempt one of the Bendigo Club Two Year Old Pace. In the resulting severe interference, two of the youngsters fell. Watch the replay of attempt one here. Both of the fallen horses (Ire of the Dragon and Syzate) and their drivers (Peter Salathiel and Robert Graham) were quickly back on their feet, with none sustaining serious injury, but stewards halted the race and ordered all runners to be vet-checked - with the ultimate result, that the two fallen horses were late scratchings. Attempt two got underway without incident, but even then, the action wasn't all over for the four-horse field. Race favorite Sheffield Peak (which had galloped after the start in the first attempt at the race) was balanced up out of the gate and worked to the lead. He looked a good winning chance turning for home, then broke up at the 400-metre mark as the death-seat horse Ultimate Exclusive (Art Major-Saved A Corka (Armbro Operative) moved up outside. Reinsman Michael Bellman showed plenty of composure, allowing Ultimate Exclusive to then cruise to the front and run away to score a comfortable 30-metre win over Swiss Lightning (Betterthancheddar-Virginia Lightning (Christian Cullen). Sheffield Peak (Artspeak-Chloe Sheffield (Whats Next) still managed to regain third when Ultimate Hughey broke straightening for home. Watch the race here. Trained by Ted Caruana, Ultimate Exclusive is the latest in the dynasty from the super-reliable broodmare Saved A Corka (Armbro Operative-Uncork NZ (Tuapeka Knight). Her progeny includes Aspiring Artist ($170,000), Our Little Artist ($70,000), Rap Artist ($100,000) and Major Exclusive ($90,000), and the mature-looking colt Ultimate Exclusive showed a lot to like at his debut run. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

Ballarat harness racing trainer Emma Stewart is the on the way to capturing 16 Vicbred Super Series pacing heats for a second year in a row. She took her tally to 12 on the second of three nights at Kilmore on Thursday. Her team took out five three-year-old heats to go with seven two-year-old races at Bendigo on Tuesday. Stewart last season reversed the sequence with five at Bendigo and seven at Kilmore. She then went on to win four heats for 4yos in Ballarat. Her stable has 10 runners in six 4yo heats at Bray Raceway on Friday night. Unfortunately her superstar Poster Boy will be missing after being scratched. Demon Delight ($6.70) provided the highlight of the night at Kilmore for Stewart when he led home stablemates Hurricane Harley ($4.70) and Centenario ($1.50 favourite) in a heat for colts and geldings. Demon Delight raced outside leader Centenario, but still drew away. Stewart's other 3yo heat winners: - Fourbigmen (driven by Chris Alford) colt - Two Times Better (Kate Gath) filly - Kualoa (Chris Alford) filly - Brevity (Chris Alford) colt After winning all seven 2yo heats at Bendigo, Stewart kept the sequence running by taking out the first two at Kilmore. Myrniong trainer Jess Tubbs broke the run with filly Larajay Macray - in a race in which Stewart was not represented. Other Ballarat district-trained starters through to semi-finals: Colts and geldings: Hes An Artist (Tim McGuigan, Gordon), Out To Play (Emma Stewart), Hurricane Harley (Emma Stewart), Centenario (Emma Stewart), Perfect Major (Emma Stewart), Foolish Pleasure (Ashleigh Herbertson, Lexton), Always Fast (Emma Stewart) Fillies: Millah Joy (Jess Tubbs, Myrniong), Mornings (Damien Burns, Bunkers Hill), Looking Fabulous (Emma Stewart), Soundslikeart (Anton Golino), Causing Strife (Wayne Ronan, Glen Park), Fiscal Fantasy (Colin Holloway, Redan), Single Tree Road (Michael Stanley) By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier

The Kilmore track is always going to hold a special place in the heart of long-time harness racing owner-trainer-breeder Ken Ward. Ward, who is based at Chintin, near Romsey, an hour north of Melbourne, landed a winning double at the Kilmore meeting – his first in over 50 years in the sport. “It’s certainly been a long time coming, but I don’t prepare big numbers, so I’ve probably been a little restricted,” Ward said. “I really regard harness racing as a bit like riding a ferris wheel though, and you’ve got enjoy the high-points!” Ward took out the Jet Roofing Pace with six-year-old gelding Village Skipper (Village Jasper USA-Skipper Patricia (Cam’s Trickster USA) then scored later in the program in the Kilmore Art Expo Pace Final with four-year-old gelding Jamieson Steele (Million Dollar Cam USA-Lady Jade Skipper (Safe and Sound). Both winners were handled in expert fashion by David Miles, who is in brilliant form at the moment. “It’s probably a little different than most people, but we’ve never raced a horse which we haven’t bred ourselves,” Ward explained. “I guess it’s a bit special when you go the whole journey with them, starting off with the breeding part, then watching them grow in the paddock, sorting out names, education and then getting to the track,” he said. Jamieson Steele “All of our horses originate from one mare, Bye Bye Jade (Adios Green-Pleasing (Dancer Hanover) that I got many years ago from my grandfather the late Jack McKay.” “Minyip Jack”, as he was known, was an owner and trainer, who partnered with the famous Melbourne Showgrounds trainer, Jack McKay, who ironically shared the same name, but was no relation. Despite his family involvement, Ward said his interest in the sport probably went back to when he was a young schoolboy and spent many hours watching Gisborne trainer Bernie Robinson prepare his team, headed by the smart pacer, Heroic Action. “I pretty much had the bug back then and have always loved horses,” he said. “We’re lucky because for us it’s a real family affair.  My wife Pat and I breed them, and we race them in partnership with one of our daughters Carissa, who is our eldest, and who works in payroll administration in Melbourne. Our other daughter Hailey also loves getting involved.” Village Skipper is now a four times winner, posting three of his victories this season. The gelding was responsible for a huge run at Kilmore. After settling at least 10 lengths off the lead after being caught wide early, he later went three and four wide down the back for the last time. In a war of attrition, Village Skipper got the upper hand to score. “He can hit a knee a little and there’s some maintenance needed with him, but he does put in,” Ward said. “I actually told young Jayden Barker, who works for our driver David Miles, that he could take the horse home win, lose or draw. At my age, my word is my bond so despite winning the race, Jayden now has him for 12 months. “Jayden gets a junior claim so he should have some fun with him.” Ken Ward The second leg of the memorable Ward double was recorded by Jamieson Steele, in a strong performance from a back-row draw. “It took him 18 starts to break his maiden status because he was a big, slow learner,” Ward said. “To be honest I really didn’t like the horse much at all in the early days. Then one day I took the block winkers off and put a shadow roll on and he settled down greatly,” he said. “Now he’s putting it together and learning how to follow helmets and I think he has a bright future.  This season has been quite good with two wins and three placings from seven outings.” Ward is pinning his hopes on a trio of two-year-olds, sired by Roll With Joe, Grinfromeartoear and Julius Caesar. “I also have an Auckland Reactor weanling filly out of a lovely mare in Skip On Broadway.  She looks the goods and is without doubt the best-looking horse I’ve had in 11 or 12 years,” he said. The Ward stable has produced a few handy performers over the years including Skipper Carissa, a winner of 15 races (eight of these at Moonee Valley) and 20 placings; and Haileys Skipper, who recorded 13 wins (one metropolitan) and 24 placings. “We have a 70-acre property and all of us are involved. I recently retired after working as a Lands Inspector and in the Quarantine service, so I’m full-time with the horses now,” he said. “I may have a team of four in training soon, although with winter approaching, perhaps three is the ideal number.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Kilmore Netball Football Club will be cheering on Jason Bonnington’s Game Plan next Thursday night – the night before the AFL Grand Final public holiday. And at least 30 members of the club will be track-side at the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup and hoping Bonnington is in good form, with the local footy club the first beneficiary of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) inaugural Grassroots Gold promotion. Powered by GoodForm, Victoria’s one-stop shop for trots punters, Grassroots Gold aligns a local sports club to each of the 25 Victorian trots country pacing cups. Grassroots Gold then delivers a $500 GoodForm Game Plan on every cup meeting, with the local partner sporting club to receive all returns from the Game Plan outlay for uniforms, equipment or other needs. “Local sporting clubs are always on the lookout for extra funds and they play such an important role in their communities,” HRV General Manager of Marketing Andrew English said. “This year through the Grassroots Gold campaign we’re looking forward to engaging different local sporting clubs with their local trots club, and our GoodForm analysts are the best in the business, so hopefully they’re able to secure some big results.” In addition to the weekly $500 Grassroots Gold Game Plan, come Mildura Pacing Cup Night (April 13) all partner clubs will have an equal share in a $2500 Mildura GoodForm punters club. “The pressure will be on Bonners to deliver that night on behalf of grassroots community sporting clubs right across the state,” Mr English said. Kilmore Football Netball Club Vice-President Jamie Archer said the club was thrilled to be partnering with Kilmore trots club and was looking forward to next Thursday night’s cup meeting. “Every buck really helps us and we’ve got a million projects on the go,” Mr Archer said. “We’re working on the new scoreboard, new rooms, installation of lights, any extra funding will really help the club, which has turned things around in recent years. We’ll be there on Thursday night and we’re really looking forward to it.” The Kilmore Football Netball Club has over 400 registered playing members and a strong local fan base. “We’re getting more and more now that we’re starting to win a few games. It was pretty dire a few years back but it’s on the up now.” AFL stars Josh Jenkins (Adelaide Crows) and Michael Hurley (Essendon) will both attend Kilmore Cup night to mingle with fans, run footy comps and sign autographs. Free Trots Country mini footballs will be available and lucky racegoers have a shot at a $500 free bet per race via the racebook competition. Register your interest in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup at the club’s event Facebook page.   Trots Media

Megastar Aussie trotter Wobelee kick-starts his Harness Jewels campaign when he returns from a spell at Kilmore on Friday night. Trainer-driver Chris Alford is adamant fans will see a more mature and sensible Wobelee than last season or his two-race cameo February/March this year. “He’s growing up and he’s not the handful he was,” he said. “It’ll be great to get him back to the races with some exciting times ahead. “He’s got this race then he heads to Sydney the week after for the NSW (Trotters’) Derby and then it’s over NZ for the Jewels. “He’s going to the Jewels. Something would have to go wrong over the next couple of weeks for that to chance.” Alford praised NZ officials for their contact and assistance around race starting procedures given Wobelee has been notoriously “tricky” in the score-up to his races. “They have been some professional and accommodating. They’ve promised an attendant will be allocated to Wobelee if that’s what we want. I wish all other clubs were as good to deal with,” he said. “Wobelee’s growing maturity, the assurances we’ve got from the NZ officials and the fact it’s pretty easy to get in and out of Auckland (for the Cambridge raceday) make the trip a very attractive one.” Wobelee boasts a 12-race winning streak – five of those at Group 1 level – but hasn’t started since saluting in the $60,000 Group 1 Need For Speed final (1720m) at Melton on March 10. Wobelee’s return launches yet another massive weekend for Alford, who also partners odds-on favourite Centenario in $350,000 Group 1 Australian Gold 2YO colts and geldings final (1720m) at Melton on Saturday night. Alford drove all four of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s youngsters when they qualified for the final, but was always going to partner the unbeaten Centenario in the final. “He’s the best of their four and Clayton (Tonkin) keeps telling me we haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Alford said. “It’s like he’s been here before this horse. He’s such a complete package for a two-year-old. “I’ve been asked where Centenario rates with the best babies I’ve driven and he’s right up with anyone of them, that’s for sure. He’s a pleasure to drive. “He’s drawn well in three, but you have to respect the two Sydney horses drawn inside him on their form (Hurricane Roy 1 and Muscle Factory 2). “I’m sure on the horse to beat. I’d say Hardhitter is the second best of Emma and Clayton’s, but it won’t be easy for him from outside the back (row, gate 11).” Adam Hamitlon

The Kilmore, Cranbourne and Stawell pacing cup champion, Yankee Rockstar, has been crowned the harness racing Country Cup Championship winner. Trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin at Smythes Creek, 15 minutes south-west of Ballarat, Yankee Rockstar’s three cup wins and a third at Shepparton saw the five-year-old amass 13 points in the series and record a two-point win ahead of Kotare Roland. VIDEO: RELIVE YANKEE ROCKSTAR'S SUPER CUPS SUCCESS Stewart said it was a great result for the horse and the stable. “Safari won it when he was around, so it is good to win because it is hard racing in the cup circuit,” Stewart said. “It is really a feather in his cap. Making the feat all the more remarkable was the depths of illness Yankee Rockstar experienced in the lead-up to the season. “He has had a terrific season. He has really come back well from a bad illness, so that just adds to what has been a terrific job.” Yankee Rockstar suffered from an illness that required a throat operation. Then when returning from Sydney after running seventh in the Chariots Of Fire in March 2015, the gelding was struck with travel sickness owing to his throat alteration. “We nearly lost him,” Stewart said. “It was 50-50 and he was at the vets for a two weeks.” Yankee Rockstar bounced back to not only win the three country cups, but to finish fourth in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Yankee Rockstar is now spelling “for a month” before he will resume, with Grand Circuit racing front of mind. Final standings: Yankee Rockstar 13 points, Kotare Roland 11, Almost El Eagle 9, Im Corzin Terror 9, Ideal Sucess 8, Keayang Steamer 8, Barimah 7, Lennytheshark 6, Ohoka Punter 6, Five Star Anvil 6.  For full standings click here. Michael Howard

Kilmore held its memorial night last Saturday with several dignitaries honoured throughout the evening. Among them were Vin O’Sullivan, superstar journalist Bob Cain and the legendary Vin Knight. While the card is widely applauded, there is still a large contingent which believes Knight’s race should carry greater status. Some feel a metropolitan event at Tabcorp Park Melton is more befitting, while others are convinced Knight deserves a Group One. In fact, there is a Facebook page titled Vin Knight Memorial should be a Group One race. It has been almost 25 years since Knight died in tragic circumstances, but his feats and standing as one of – if not the - greatest horseman Australia has seen remain intact. Knight drove his initial winner, Dian Glenfern, at his home track of Kilmore on July 6, 1970, a little over two months after his 16th birthday. He registered his first metropolitan win with Cita Dollar at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds on May 1, 1971, four days before his 17th birthday. During the next two decades Knight added another 720 wins to his tally while competing at the Showgrounds and Moonee Valley. Included in his record 721 Melbourne victories are four quintets, (a record), nine quadruples, (another record), 45 trebles and an incredible 143 doubles. He also drove hundreds of country winners, along with numerous winners in every Australian state as well as New Zealand. Knight was leading Melbourne reinsman six times, including the years of his death despite only driving half the season! He won a record 18 Inter Dominion heats – 16 with pacers and two with trotters – and drove in 10 consecutive Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Finals – also a record. First Glimpse provided Knight with his last winner when he captured the inaugural Oceania El Dorado at Moonee Valley on April 6, 1991. Three days later harness racing in Australasia went into mourning when it was announced Knight was dead. A man who enjoyed life, and lived it to its fullest, Knight took his own life four weeks short of his 37th birthday. The champion was found dead in his car about a kilometre south Kilmore on Tuesday, April 9. Despite his inner demons, Knight was a star of the industry and was associated with topliners such as Popular Alm, Garry’s Advice, Smooth Falcon, Bag Limit, Our Maestro, Jane Ellen, Jodie’s Babe, Rockleigh Victory, Almeta Boy and Sinbad Bay. As for the race in his honour, it was captured by Bettors Package with driver Kate Gath fittingly wearing the famous Knight colours of Yellow with a Red Maltese Cross. Trained by leading horsewoman Emma Stewart, Bettors Package rated 1:55.8 for the 1680 metres when accounting for Daylight Dan and Eye Like Candy. The silks were also worn to glory in last season’s edition by popular horseman Steve Cleave. PAUL COURTS

A quick look at the Reg Withers Classic honour roll reveals truth in the adage “it is a good horse’s race”. From Henschke’s pioneering win in 2002 in the inaugural classic at Kilmore right through to Follow The Stars’ triumph on Saturday night, the honour roll is adorned with top-line talents. Henschke won 34 of 157 races and pocketed connections over $400,000, with the two-year-old Breeders’ Crown Final at Bendigo his crowning moment. The 2003 Reg Withers Classic winner Maggies Son won 42 races from 168 starts for $368,719. Maggies Son’s biggest victory came in the Vicbred Super Series final at four. In 2005 the Classic again produced a genuine free-for-aller with Tactical Dreamer taking it out before going on to win a Melton Plate and the Preux Chevalier Free-For-All to finish with 21 wins from 100 starts for almost $200,000 in stakes. Garnet River won the Reg Withers Classic in 2009 after winning APG heats and the Youthful Stakes at two and finishing runner-up in the Breeders’ Crown Final. In 2011 Caribbean Blaster was Reg Withers Classic champion, with the Andy Gath-trained son of Bettors Delight etching a name for himself with wins in the Chariots Of Fire, Breeders’ Crown Final, Victoria Cup and the 2014 SA Cup. Caribbean Blaster had 79 starts for 24 wins for over $1.1 million in stakes. In 2012 it was Philadelphia Man who delighted Kilmore fans in the Reg Withers Classic.  He went on to win the Vicbred Super Series Final at three. Flaming Flutter won the 2013 Reg Withers and has gone on to run second in this year’s Inter Dominion, while Smokey Quartz took out the Kilmore feature last year and has just recently resumed from a spell. Back to Saturday night’s winner, Follow The Stars. He’s already considered a top-liner with 16 wins from 22 starts…so watch this space. Trained by Belinda McCarthy, Follow The Stars defeated Burnaholeinmypocket in 1:57 over the 2180-metre trip. HRV Media

One of harness racing’s great scribes will be honoured at Kilmore on Saturday night with the latest edition of the Bob Cain Memorial. Losing his long battle with cancer in 2005, Cain left a hole in the industry’s media section too big to fill, having served the sport in the highest calibre for almost five decades. Cain’s association with harness racing started in 1959 when, at the age of 16, he began work at the Trotting Control Board as, in his words, the ‘resident lackey’. His flair for journalism was soon apparent, with Cain producing articles for The Guide, Australian Trotting Register, Racetrack and Sports Novels. In December 1963, Cain left the TCB to work at Southdown Press as Assistant Editor on the racing and trotting publication Best Bets, while also assisting Southdown Press’ sister publication Truth. Cain became chief trotting scribe for Truth in 1969, covering harness and thoroughbred racing for the next decade. During the 1970s, Cain’s versatility shone through, with the intrepid reporter covering VFL, cricket, cycling and other general sports for the Truth. After leaving Truth in 1979, Cain re-joined the team in 1982, before moving to National Trotting Weekly as Assistant Editor in 1985. Cain took over paper’s top job in 1993, but resigned from the position in 1996 due to ill-health, working as a freelancer for the next eight years. In 2001, at the insistence of then New South Harness Racing Club chief executive Peter V’Landys, Cain returned NTW, which had been renamed Harness Racing Weekly, to be publisher of the paper and its sister publication National Trotguide, simply because he was the best man in the industry to undertake the difficult role. “Bob was a brilliant journalist, legendary author, but most importantly, he was a champion bloke,” V’Landys said. “I don’t think I have met a person who had a wit like Bob possessed, and although he tried to hide his feelings, I don’t think there was a more caring and kind person. “When we acquired Harness Racing Weekly Bob was simply the only person capable of getting the job of putting the two papers together done for us.” During the years, Cain promoted the industry via radio and television, and has four books to his credit. Among Cain’s achievements are numerous literary awards on a national and state level, with Cain gaining a reputation as an astute historian, which led him to becoming the “go to” man for a large number of journalists throughout Australia. Cain’s career was given due recognition before his death when the Australian Harness Racing Council honoured him with the Joseph Coulter Media Meritorious Service Award. As for the race in Cain’s honour, handy pacer Captain Bronzie shapes as the one to beat for trainer George Batsakis despite drawing awkwardly in barrier five. The son of Art Major is ready to return to the winners’ circle having filled the placings at his two runs back from a break. “He is going well, and after two runs this time in, he is back at his peak,” Batsakis said. “The barrier is a bit difficult, but it is only a small field of six, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. “He has the gate speed there if Chris (Alford, driver) wants to use it.” Following this weekend’s assignment Captain Bronzie will work his way through the grades as Batsakis prepares the four-year-old for the rich Vicbred Super Series. “He is very loosely-assessed, so at this stage I will just get him through the grades and head towards the Vicbred,” Batsakis said. “He is not up to the real top ones, but he’s a nice type, which can win his races.” PAUL COURTS

What began as a childhood fascination has developed into a lifetime passion for harness racing trainer Bill Polidano. Growing up in Avondale Heights, a youthful Polidano found himself drawn to the Ascot Vale Showgrounds, where he developed a love for the industry. Becoming a regular at the venue, Polidano ventured into ownership as soon as his financial status would allow him. “I spent my younger days watching the trots at the Showgrounds whenever I could get there,” Polidano recalled. “I just loved watching them go around and my passion grew from there. “When I started working, the first thing I did was buy a horse and I’ve had them ever since.” With his involvement growing throughout the years, Polidano soon began driving, training and breeding his own stock. Although he has enjoyed his fair rate of success, Polidano selected a unique memory as his greatest moment within the industry. “Brian Gath was my idol when I’d head to the Showgrounds and my biggest thrill came at Bendigo many years ago when I drove Mckeringle and beat him,” Polidano said. “I was only starting out at the time and was pretty excited. “Brian’s such a gentleman and I’ve even had him drive some of my horses.” Polidano experienced another highlight at Kilmore yesterday when one of his breed, All By Chance, scored with Chris Alford in the cart. Having her third run from a spell, All By Chance easily accounted for The System Black and Highly Persuasive in 1:57.7 for the 1690 metres. “She won her last start before having a break and I knew she was ready to win again as she had been trialling well,” Polidano said. “She just hadn’t had any luck in her first two runs back. “Chris was pretty happy with the way she went and said she was capable of winning more races. “I’ve got no major plans for her, just put her through the grades, but I’d like to win an M0 with her. “For now she will just keep plugging along.” By Royal Mattjesty, the four-year-old is from Lova Keringle, which Polidano also bred. “I’ve had this family for four generations now and it’s a pretty handy bloodline,” Polidano said. “Lova Keringle was just too big at 17 hands and couldn’t make it as a racehorse, so I quickly retired her to stud. “The first mare I had from this family was Kertest, which is a half-sister to Zakara, which was a top horse in Western Australia. “So far I’ve had 14 foals from the family, but only two colts and I’m still waiting for my Zakara! “Even Lova Keringle has and three foals for three fillies. Her two-year-old by Shadow Play has won a couple of trials and I really like her. “She’s spelling at the moment, but she will win races. Lova Keringle is in foal to Sportswriter, so maybe a colt is on the way.” PAUL COURTS

Well-bred pacer Dont Call Me Cheap will make her long-awaited debut at tonight’s harness racing program at Kilmore. A member of the Julie Mifsud stable, Dont Call Me Cheap is by Blissfull Hall from good producer Botswana. As such, the mare is a half-sister to Group One winner Lennytheshark and a sister to Led Suitcase and Blissfull Boy. A former classy youngster, Led Suitcase also boasts success at Group One level. The clan is littered with top shelf winners, including Newbold Penny, Tandias Courage, Classic Garry, Nolarama, Burling Game, Mother Courage, Provocative and Penny Veejay. While the above mentioned were star youngsters, Dont Call Me Cheap will complete her first trip to the races as a four-year-old, with Mifsud stating expectations are being kept under wraps. “We’re not going to get carried away with her,” Mifsud said. “She’s a nice type, but she’s got a lot to learn about racing. “The ability and speed are there, but the maturity isn’t. On top of that, she’s off the second row and it’s the first time she’ll be under lights. “It’s just a case of see how she handles it all.” Although Dont Call Me Cheap is making a late start to her career, Mifsud explained the delayed debut was “just circumstances.” “There has never been anything major wrong with her,” Mifsud declared. “It’s just been a few little setback and life away from the horses getting in the way. “Her owners have been very patient and hopefully she can make up for some lost time as we go along.” PAUL COURTS

Top pacer Bitobliss continued his tremendous association with one of Victorian harness racing’s premier provincial meetings yesterday. Completing his regular trip to the prized Kilmore Cup program, Bitobliss captured the support feature on the card – Popular Alm Sprint. Trainer Scott Stewart elected to enter the son of Blissfull Hall in the short distance event given he was first-up from a spell. Along with his latest triumph, Bitobliss is one of only three pacers to register consecutive wins in the club’s flagship event since its inauguration in 1964 when captured by You Crovottie. Thanks to his victories in 2011 and ’12, Bitobliss sits alongside Popular Alm and Game Oro to form the ‘terrific three’. Popular Alm was the first to achieve the feat in 1981 and ’82, followed by Game Oro in 1985 and ’86. Popular Alm was prepared by the late Bob and Vin Knight, who Stewart worked for during the late 1980s and early ‘90s. As for Bitobliss’ latest connection with Popular Alm, Stewart is thrilled with his stable flagship’s performance. “He went super,” Stewart said. “Although first-up, his work leading into it had been great and I knew he was in pretty good shape. “The great part is he will improve for the run.” With Stewart in the cart, Bitobliss began quickly to lead from the pole, with the remainder of the trip a formality as the stallion was untouched to account for Amajorjo and Uncle Wingnut. “He felt very sharp and just wanted to race,” Stewart said. “I never had to go for him at any stage and he just did it so easily.” Covering the last half in a slick 55.5 seconds, Bitobliss rated 1:53.4 for the 1690 metres, cutting five-tenths of a second off Catch Your Breath’s track record established in last year’s sprint. Earmarking the Smoken Up Sprint as the eight-year-old’s next target, Stewart has set the Miracle Mile as Bitobliss’ return to the Grand Circuit. Renamed after the recently retired champion, the Smoken Up Sprint was previously known as The Legends, with Bitobliss successful in the 2011 and 2012 editions. The Group Two is scheduled to be run at Melton on November 7, with the Miracle Mile to be conducted at Menangle three weeks later. PAUL COURTS

On October 27, 2013 the Kilmore Racing Club will celebrate its 50 year anniversary of Kilmore trotting. In Celebration, the Kilmore Racing Club welcomes a lifelong local as its new major sponsor. Mr John Cameron, Chief Executive Officer of Kilmore Racing Club (KRC) and Mr Andrew Stewart, Director of Jet Roofing are pleased to announce the Kilmore Pacing Cup will proudly be sponsored by Jet Roofing. “Kilmore Racing Club’s partnership with Jet Roofing is fantastic news for the club and community,” Cameron said. “The Board is very pleased a local sponsor has partnered with KRC for its biggest race of the year. The Stewart’s are a special part of the KRC family and the historical affiliation between Andrew Stewart and Kilmore Racing Club dates back, almost as long as the Pacing Cup itself. “We are very excited to be associated with this prestigious event and play a part in this historic moment.” For further details contact: Alex Cameron Kilmore Racing Club P| 03 5783 0700 (option2) F| 03 5783 0799  

Two meetings were held in Victoria on Thursday July 25, Cobram during the afternoon and Kilmore at night, listed below are some of the highlights. Veteran MoamaEchuca trainer/driver Ron Gilligan's 5-Y-0 Wind Cries Maori/Salute The Rain gelding Salute The Wind produced a career best performance to land the Barooga Hotel Trotters Mobile for T0 & T1 class over 2170 metres at Cobram. Beginning with a rush from outside the front row, Salute The Wind almost crossed the hot favourite Kyvalley Glide (gate five) which kept him at bay, resulting in Salute The Wind having to race in the open. Joining the pacemaker on the home turn, Salute The Wind proved too strong over the concluding stages to score by a half neck in a mile rate of 2-02.9, with Daretobedifferent (three back the markers) third after Prettygirl Lassie which trailed the leader breaking when using the sprint lane to issue a challenge. Popular Avenel/Nagambie trainer Michael Hayes combined with Bendigo based Scott Dyer aboard honest 4-Y-0 Live Or Die/Forest Drive gelding Forbidden Forest to snare the Bakers Delight Pace for C2 class over 1670 metres in a mile rate of 1-56.3. Starting from inside the second line, Forbidden Forest was given the run of the race trailing the poleline leader Abstract Lady and was always travelling kindly. Surprisingly not wanting to use the sprint lane, Dyer eased Forbidden Forest around Abstract Lady on straightening and finished best to record a nose victory in a tricky finish, Pensicola (four back the markers) used the sprint lane to finish third. Much travelled border hopper Our Bulla Boy trained at Lavington (Albury) by Chris Chant and driven by Cameron Maggs provided an upset result in the Jim Howes Memorial Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2170 metres. Trailing the pacemaker and favourite Whatacracker drawn next to him from the pole, Our Bulla Boy gained a freak inside passage approaching the home turn when Whatacracker shifted ground allowing him to lead on turning. Kept going in the straight, Our Bulla Boy scored by 3.5 metres in advance of Dynamite Dude from last after gaining inside runs everywhere, with Peaces Of You running on late out wide finishing third. A winner of 10 races from 51 outings, Our Bulla Boy returned a mile rate of 1-59.9. Astute Kialla (Shepparton) trainer Steve O'Donoghue produced a first starter by the name of No Tomorrow to impressively take the 2nd Heat of the Vicbred Platinum Country Series B for Three Year Olds over 1670 metres. A gelded son of Life Sign and Cobbity Cobbity driven by “Bec” Bartley, No Tomorrow was sent forward from gate six to park outside the leader Tennaya until (gate three) until another first starter Brown Rice (four back the markers) took charge of its driver Mark Buckingham to race inside the marker pegs and lead turning into the back straight on the final occasion before easing out of the race. Despite doing all of the work, No Tomorrow was too strong at the finish for a sprint laning Sophies Ideal (three back the markers) and Tennaya, returning a mile rate of 1-58.9. The Kilmore program was highlighted by three heats of the Rock N Roll Heaven/Bellino Breeders Crown Series 15 for Three Year Old Colts & Geldings over 2180 metres. The first (Heat 8) going to outstanding Kiwi gelding Border Control for Mark Purdon and stand-in reinsman Greg Sugars in a rate of 1-58.7. Settling mid-field from gate two on the second row, Border Control (Bettors Delight/Contrapan) was set alight mid-race to stride clear racing for the bell, winning as he pleased over Almost El Eagle which led for the first lap, with Major Calypso third after moving from near last at the bell to park in the open for the final circuit. Heat 9 went the way of Wahring (Shepparton) trainer Daniel Jack's quality Art Major/Full Pleasure gelding Nowitzki in 2-00.1. Driven by Nathan jack, Nowitzki led throughout from gate five to score by 14.5 metres over Our Warwick Lad which trailed, with Christian Sloy third after following the pair. Heat 10 saw Mt Cottrell trainer John Nicholson's ever reliable Blissful Hall/Lotsa Wealth gelding Ginger Bliss win impressively in a rate of 2-02. Driven by son Rhys, Ginger Bliss starting from the extreme draw settled at the tail of the field, before gaining a three wide trail at the expense of Gollahman (one/three) from the bell. Although four wide on the final bend, Ginger Bliss swept to the front on straightening to register a 3.9 metre victory over Magnificent Art along the sprint lane off the back of the weakening leader Wounded, with Doomed (one/one) third. Trafalgar (Gippsland) trainer Chris Hunter was successful with 4-Y-0 Grinfromeartoear/Rhythmake mare Rhygrin in the Kilmore Swimming Club Pace for C0 class (mares) over 2180 metres. With son Glenn in the sulky, Rhygrin first up since February had to work extremely hard from the pole to hold out Rowan Direct (gate three) as the mobile pulled away, maintaining the front running. Tackled again in the last lap by Cheval Charette three wide from the one/one spot, Rhygrin was very game to fend off all challengers on straightening, scoring by a head from Snow Cone (one/two) and Cheval Charette in a rate of 2-03.9. Parwan father and son - David & Brad Barnes scored a well overdue victory with Falcon Seelster/Crown Defender 5-Y-0 gelding Coltrane Bromac in the Nexus Primary Health Pace for C1 class over 2180 metres. Taking a concession for Brad, Coltrane Bromac was given every chance trailing the leader Dance With Mia after the heavily supported Fifth And Broadway went off stride when leading running into the first turn. Easing three wide on the final bend, Coltrane Bromac finished full of running to cut down a death-seating Cheshire Cat in the shadows of the post by 2.1 metres which was no laughing matter, with Fifth And Broadway weaving in-between runners to finish a close up third. The mile rate 2-02.4.  by Len Baker      

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